Police: Person Of Interest In Murder Of Yale Grad Student Stole Car In


The New York Times

His Lights Stayed on During Texas’ Storm. Now He Owes $16,752.

SAN ANTONIO — As millions of Texans shivered in dark, cold homes over the past week while a winter storm devastated the state’s power grid and froze natural gas production, those who could still summon lights with the flick of a switch felt lucky. Now, many of them are paying a severe price for it. “My savings is gone,” said Scott Willoughby, a 63-year-old Army veteran who lives on Social Security payments in a Dallas suburb. He said he had nearly emptied his savings account so that he would be able to pay the $16,752 electric bill charged to his credit card — 70 times what he usually pays for all of his utilities combined. “There’s nothing I can do about it, but it’s broken me.” Sign up for The Morning newsletter from the New York Times Willoughby is among scores of Texans who have reported skyrocketing electric bills as the price of keeping lights on and refrigerators humming shot upward. For customers whose electricity prices are not fixed and are instead tied to the fluctuating wholesale price, the spikes have been astronomical. The outcry elicited angry calls for action from lawmakers from both parties and prompted Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, to hold an emergency meeting with legislators Saturday to discuss the enormous bills. “We have a responsibility to protect Texans from spikes in their energy bills that are a result of the severe winter weather and power outages,” Abbott, who has been reeling after the state’s infrastructure failure, said in a statement after the meeting. He added that Democrats and Republicans would work together to make sure people “do not get stuck with skyrocketing energy bills.” The electric bills are coming due at the end of a week in which Texans have faced a combination of crises caused by the frigid weather, beginning on Monday, when power grid failures and surging demand led to millions being left without electricity. Natural gas producers were not prepared for the freeze either, and many people’s homes were cut off from heat. Now, millions of people are discovering that they have no safe water because of burst pipes, frozen wells or water treatment plants that have been knocked offline. Power has returned in recent days for all but about 60,000 Texans as the storm moved east, where it has also caused power outages in Mississippi, Louisiana, West Virginia and Ohio. The steep electric bills in Texas are in part a result of the state’s uniquely unregulated energy market, which allows customers to pick their electricity providers among about 220 retailers in an entirely market-driven system. Under some of the plans, when demand increases, prices rise. The goal, architects of the system say, is to balance the market by encouraging consumers to reduce their usage and power suppliers to create more electricity. But when last week’s crisis hit and power systems faltered, the state’s Public Utilities Commission ordered that the price cap be raised to its maximum limit of $9 per kilowatt-hour, easily pushing many customers’ daily electric costs above $100. And in some cases, like Willoughby’s, bills rose by more than 50 times the normal cost. Many of the people who have reported extremely high charges, including Willoughby, are customers of Griddy, a small company in Houston that provides electricity at wholesale prices, which can quickly change based on supply and demand. The company passes the wholesale price directly to customers, charging an additional $9.99 monthly fee. Much of the time, the rate is considered affordable. But the model can be risky: Last week, foreseeing a huge jump in wholesale prices, the company encouraged all of its customers — about 29,000 people — to switch to another provider when the storm arrived. But many were unable to do so. Katrina Tanner, a Griddy customer who lives in Nevada, Texas, said she had been charged $6,200 already this month, more than five times what she paid in all of 2020. She began using Griddy at a friend’s suggestion a couple of years ago and was pleased at the time with how simple it was to sign up. As the storm rolled through during the past week, however, she kept opening the company’s app on her phone and seeing her bill “just rising, rising, rising,” Tanner said. Griddy was able to take the money she owed directly from her bank account, and she now has just $200 left. She suspects that she was…



News Read More: Police: Person Of Interest In Murder Of Yale Grad Student Stole Car In

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

Get more stuff like this
in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.